Xtra - Carlo's memories
Here's an exclusive interview with Carlo Cudicini ahead of Thursday night's Europa League opener against his former club SS Lazio, direct from our official matchday programmme.
As well as Carlo, look out for an interview with Aaron Lennon and special features on Paul Gascoigne, our 1963 Cup Winners' Cup first round clash against Rangers, all you need to know about Lazio plus news, views and photographs direct from White Hart Lane and Hotspur Way in the programme, 100 pages for £3.50 - available online HERE.
CARLO'S LAZIO MEMORIES
For a man whose playing career lasted less than 90 minutes with the club, Carlo Cudicini talks about his time at Lazio in nothing but glowing terms.
No-one else in our current squad is better placed to talk about tonight’s opponents than our Italian goalkeeper, who spent the 1996-97 season at the Stadio Olimpico.
It turned out to be a frustrating 12 months for Carlo however, who made his Serie A debut in Lazio’s colours, only to sustain an injury which would keep him out for the remainder of the campaign and never play for the club again.
After spells with AC Milan, Como on loan and Prato, Cudicini joined the Rome outfit in 1996 and on October 20 that year, he was handed his breakthrough. In a game against Cagliari, Carlo came on as an early substitute for Lazio’s first choice keeper Luca Marchegiani.
The Milan-born shot-stopper picks up the story. “It was my first game in Serie A, so I was absolutely buzzing,” he said. “But then I ruptured my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament in knee) in the last three minutes of the match. So on one side, I was excited but on the other, I knew it was going to be a long six months ahead of me to recover.
“Even in the dressing room after the game, I was still buzzing because I’d played my first game in the league, we’d won 2-1 and I was happy.
“But the following day came the bad news about the injury and then the long recovery to get back to full fitness. It was heartbreaking.”
Despite enduring a difficult time at Lazio, Carlo can’t speak highly enough about the place and the club’s fantastic fans.
“Rome is a great city to live in and it was a good experience for me at Lazio. The supporters there are very good, really passionate and even though I only played once for them, they still show me a lot of support. I still get letters from Lazio fans which is amazing considering how my time at the club went – I’ve got a lot of respect for the supporters there.”
Looking ahead to tonight’s showdown, Carlo believes our two matches against Lazio are going to be the toughest in this group, particularly bearing in mind the way the Biancocelesti have started the current campaign.
“They changed the manager, struggled in pre-season and there was a lot of pressure on the new manager,” revealed Cudicini. “But after the first three games of the league season, they have three wins.
“It’s a solid team, with a very good goalkeeper in Federico Marchetti and at the moment the man to watch is Hernanes.
“They also have Miroslav Klose, who everyone knows is a dangerous forward. The players have been together for a few years now and that’s one of their main strengths."